At the end of June I sang in the Lanercost Festival Chorus (the 4th time I had sung Carmina Burana, though in fact all 3 other times I had sung 2nd soprano, missing out on some beltingly exciting top notes: this time I sang 1st soprano and revelled in it).
At the final rehearsals – on the Friday night and the Sunday afternoon – I was struck strongly by a sense of community. The choir was accompanied by a group of percussionists, nearly all of whom were locals. The two dances were played and the dancers who performed to them came from Ms Nicola Ivinson’s School of Dance (this is the dancing school which Bella goes to, and which practices at Brampton Community Centre). The small choir of children was a group of young teenagers from William Howard school. And the soloists were people who the conductor knew. No highly-paid professionals, dragged in from London: just a group of Cumbrians. And yet the standard was, I think, as high as anything you would experience in London (there were some exceptions but I won’t go there).
Having very nearly not sung with the choir at all, I was glad I had managed to get childcare so that I could: and was further rewarded when people thanked me for singing as I helped on the high notes.
Then this weekend just gone I went down to near Bowness on Windermere to stay with Colin and Davina. It’s about an hour and a half’s drive from Brampton and the countryside feels completely different – this is, after all, the heart of the Lake District with all its Beatrix Potter prettiness and tea rooms. But in true Cumbrian fashion the sense of community and of everybody knowing everybody is still all-pervasive (little do the tourists and hen and stag parties flocking around Bowness know). We went to the Brown Horse Inn at Winster twice, where Davina and Colin seem to know all of the staff; and we went out for a barbecue on Saturday night and had had an invitation to a second one (after 4 proseccos I was falling asleep at 9.30pm so two barbecues would have been past me).
We also went for two lovely walks, the weather being gloriously warm and sunny. I’ve been to Skelwith Bridge many times but never walked in a loop around to Little Langdale Quarries and Slaters Bridge and over to Elterwater before heading back along the well-known and popular path between Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge: which latter section I have walked several times with children as it’s fairly short and level and there are plenty of sticks and stones for them to play with and (normally) puddles to splash in.
The following day we went on a walk I had done the first time I went to visit Colin and Davina, or at least of which I had done most: from their house up through the woods and over to the Brown Horse. Sitting outside in the lunchtime sun I was struck by just how many cyclists were passing, but also by how much it felt like a summer holiday. It wasn’t quite like sitting outside an Italian or Greek cafe-bar, sipping espresso or something stronger and watching the sea and the world going past, but it engendered a very similar feeling.
Working full time is going to be strange, but at least I’ll have the weekends to look forward to – and I hope as many sun-filled, relaxing ones as there are weeks of school holiday!